Jesus at the Red Light

Jesus at the Red Light

I guess you could say that I “had myself a come-apart,” as they say in The South.

I had just dropped my Mom off at her condo after visiting an Assisted-Living facility she was considering moving into. She may need the kind of help they offer sooner or later. We’re trying to check out our options now, before there’s a real crisis.

The facility was lovely and the people there were completely delightful and kind. Mom had done well touring the place and asking questions, even though I knew her memory problems were making it hard for her. Overall, it went WAY better than I had expected.

But once I got into the car to head back home, I could feel the tears welling up. Like a tiny snowball of grief rolling down a hill, I could see it coming, growing larger and larger. By the time I made it to my first red light, it was a full-on grief avalanche. Ugly. Cry.

The tears and the grief weren’t about the facility…truly, it was wonderful. She would receive great care there. No, they were for the fact that Mom even needs to look at a facility like that at all. The grief was (IS, if I’m honest) about the changes I’ve seen and the ones that are likely to come.

I am not a fan of change. I am not what you might call a “good adapter.” I’m more like, “Can’t all of the good things stay just the way I want them forever and ever, thank you very much.”

Changes, especially hard ones, like a kid going off to college or a parent showing subtle signs of dementia, make want to put my fingers in my ears and sing “La, la, la, la…I can’t hear/see/feel you!”

Meanwhile, back in the car…

Now, I know Ugly Cry and driving do not go together, so I prayed, “God, please help me calm down. I can’t drive home like this.”

And it was as I was wiping the tears from my eyes at the red light that I saw it: Jesus.

In the same way you might see “Wash Me” scrawled in the dirt on a car, someone had written “Jesus” on the white van in front of me. A great big JESUS.

I stared at it for a moment and a calm swept over me as I was reminded of something…Someone…who will never change.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus will never change.

He will always be with me, even when hard changes come.

Even when I have ZERO interest in adapting.

Even when I Ugly Cry and wish things were different than they are.

Even then, Jesus stays the same.

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This is my contribution for Five Minute Friday, a weekly linkup of writers who free write for five minutes on an assigned word. Our word for this week: Adapt.   More-FMF-Square-Images-36

Stuck in the Middle?

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This is my contribution for Five Minute Friday, a weekly linkup of writers who free write for five minutes on an assigned word. Our word for this week: Stuck.

I’ve been reading a lot about the Sandwich Generation lately in an effort to better understand my people…my tribe of fellow gooey “sandwich” centers. (I like to think we are comprised of Nutella, because Nutella is amazing.)

The Sandwich Generation that I find myself in is the generation described as those who are in their 40s/50s and are simultaneously supporting their own children while caring for aging parents. We’re stuck in the middle, so to speak.

Being in this generation is like a wild rollercoaster of responsibility. Lots of ups and downs. Kind of bumpy at times. The views are simultaneously terrifying and utterly amazing. There may be nausea.

And while “stuck” is a word that can be used to describe the Sandwich Generation, I don’t really believe I’m stuck at all.

I think “placed” is a much better word.

I’ve been placed here by God. He knew long before I came along that I would be here in this moment with my family. He knew I’d have an amazing husband and that we’d have teenaged sons and aging parents. He knew that there would be challenges with both and that the weight of responsibilities would, at times, feel enormous.

But He also knew how I’d need Him. He also knew how He’d never leave me. He also knew that in these challenging times, I would look to him like never before.

In Ecclesiastes 3, we read that there’s a time…a season…for everything. How good it is to know that no matter what the season…no matter what the generation…He is there.

Even if we ever feel more “stuck” than “placed.”

God is with us.

 

 

 

The Food Bowl Attack of 2017

The Food Bowl Attack of 2017

Katie is afraid of her food bowl.

That’s just all kinds of not normal.

She hasn’t always been this way, though.  She and her food bowl used to be best buds.

A few months ago, the metal clip on her collar somehow hooked onto the rim of her food bowl, causing it to rise up off the floor as she lifted her head from the bowl.  It was absolutely stuck to her collar and no amount of shaking on her part would set it loose. Panicked, she tried to get away from the bowl only to have it follow her.  Terrifying.

Katie covered a lot of square footage, yelping loudly all the way, bowl bouncing as she ran, before I was able to set her free from her tormentor.

And ever since that day, things have not been the same between Katie and her bowl.  She is showing it zero love, even though it contains one of her favorite things (not her MOST FAVORITE thing…that’s toilet paper.).

She’s super apprehensive, sure that the bowl will jump up at any given moment. (In case you’re curious, we’ve tried LOTS of different bowls…all bowls are currently evil.)

Fool me once, food bowl…shame on you…

These days, Katie slowly approaches her bowl, takes a single kernel of food, and runs away to eat it.  Then she’ll come back, bark at the bowl (a stern I-Have-Not-Forgotten  bark), and try again.

Fool me twice…shame on me…

My dog has trust issues.

I don’t blame her.  Feeling attacked by something you trust is scary.

And even though the Food Bowl Attack of 2017 happened months ago, it feels like yesterday to her.  Fear has a good memory.

So do I.

Sometimes I let the memory of the pain of broken trust or the fear of hurt feelings keep me away from what I really need: people.

I act just like Katie. No, I’m not afraid my dinnerware will attack me, but I do shy away from situations where I might be vulnerable. Given the choice, I’ll pass on pain.

Fool me once, mankind…shame on you…

But, just like Katie can’t completely avoid her food bowl…dog’s gotta eat…I can’t avoid relationships…woman’s gotta love.

See, as one of God’s children, I was created for connection.  My soul shrivels without it.

But the world we live in is messy and complicated and, because of that, relationships get messy and complicated.

Intentions are misunderstood. Motives are questioned. Words are said. Feelings get hurt. Relationships and all that comes with them can be downright scary.  Sometimes we feel attacked when we least expect it and all we want to do is shake free from the relationships and people that caused it.  We start to fear the very thing that keeps us alive…connection.

We risk a lot when we’re vulnerable.  But we also learn more about ourselves and about who our God is when we let people in.  In the process, yes, we might get attacked. Our feelings might get hurt and we might hurt someone we dearly love.

But isn’t it worth the risk?

Don’t we gain so much more than we risk to lose?

And when we give up on being vulnerable, what are we saying about God?  When we wash our hands of even the possibility of getting hurt, who are we believing God is?

Can he not handle it? Will he not help us? Does he not have our best interest in mind when it comes to the people and circumstances he brings into our lives?

I believe he can, he will, and he does.

It is with his help that we are able to navigate our messy and complicated lives. And, y’all, he IS our ever-present help in times of trouble. Scary things happen. Relationships can be hard. But God isn’t going anywhere. He’s with us forever.

Katie is scared of her food bowl, but she eats anyway. She knows she needs to eat. Just like Katie needs her food, we need each other. We keep each other alive…alive to the wonder that is this life with God. We were designed by the God who loves us to love one another.  Our lives are meant to be reflections of his love…reminders of his grace.

Relationships are risky business.

Let’s risk it.